Soil: Sand to clay
Light: Full to part sun
Bloom colour: Red to yellow to pink
Bloom period: Early summer onwards
Height: 12 to 36 inches
Moisture: Dry to medium
Attracts: A variety of bees, butterflies, other insects, birds and sometimes hummingbirds.
Notes: Zinnias are elegant annual flowers from Mexico that have deservedly become quite popular. They attract a large range of animals and are probably the best annual to plant in a wildlife garden. They start to bloom in July and then the flowers just keep coming. As the season progresses, the flowers become more profuse. Zinnias are planted in ornamental and managed wildlife gardens where they contribute a long season of bright colour.
To get the best out of these flowers, plant them en masse. They are easy to grow and tolerate dryness once they are established. They do well in sandy soil.
These flowers have an easily accessible ring of stamens and stigmata that attract a large range of insects. Hummingbirds may also be drawn to these flowers even though the flower shape is not specific to this pollinator. The double-flowered cultivars may make the nectar and pollen hard to get at. I would stick with tall single and semi-double flowers in a wildlife garden. Leave a good proportion of flowerheads on the plant at the end of the season. The flowers will self-sow and you will enjoy watching the goldfinches eating the seeds. If you have ornamental island gardens, then low zinnias make a great edge plant.
Ruby-throated hummingbird feeding at a Zinnia flower.